Outstanding In Their Field

Outstanding in their field Stng Head-WEB

I am about to start my 12th year of writing about agriculture in Will County. Whenever I want an easy night at the computer, penning about 500 words, I revert to a general review of what is important now on Will County farms, or at least what comes to my mind as important. So here goes my 514th submission to the paper:
It was a relief when March 1 finally rolled around and my tax payment was safely mailed. Farmers who do not pay estimated taxes throughout the year are required to complete and submit their tax return by March 1st. You are considered a farmer if more than 2/3rds of your gross income is from farming.
With my wife having a good job as a “drug dealer” and my attempts to reduce acreage as I slip towards retirement, 2022 may be the last year I am a farmer in the eyes of the IRS. Read on if you are curious about the drugs.
Farmers will soon be stockpiling the seeds, fertilizers, and weed killers they will need for the growing season on their farm. With the passing of the 1-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, many inputs are still much higher priced than previously. Thankfully, fuel and some fertilizers have retreated from recent high prices. Supply chain issues that started with the pandemic have lessened but still exist for many parts and supplies.
Since Ukraine was one of the world’s leaders in wheat production, the price of wheat has also had a wild ride in the last year. Shortly after the invasion, wheat went from $7 per bushel to $8, $9, $10 and higher. The price peaked at just under $13.00 per bushel before starting a long, slow grind lower.
Wheat has now retreated to under $7.00. This is good news for all of us who eat bread and other foods made from wheat/flour, but it is not good news for all the farmers who planted more wheat acres last fall hoping to net more value from wheat than their traditional corn and bean acres.
The constant ringing of my phone confirms what other hay producers have told me — the supply of hay in storage for feeding livestock is very low. If you had a hay barn full of nice alfalfa mix hay right now, you could be the king of the world! Well, maybe not quite, but you would be popular and quite busy selling hay for some decent revenue. On my farm, I have had to turn away new customers, something that is always very frustrating to do.
With the harvest of wheat and baling of straw not occurring until July, there are also very few bales of straw left for sale. For decades, straw was used for livestock bedding. Many horse racetracks that used to exist around Chicagoland had thousands and thousands of bales of straw delivered for bedding.
With the popularity of multiple gambling venues now available, the horse racing industry is on life support. I suspect if you support the Bears building a stadium at the old Arlington Park Racetrack, you would be OK with the demise of racing.
It had been years since I sold straw to a horse owner, until one came the other day for 148 bales. I am now selling straw to almost 10 different fire departments. They use the straw as an accelerant in their fire training centers. That might make you think twice about building one of those trendy straw bale houses.
Now, about those drugs: My wife can sell you all the statins, insulin, Losartan, Viagra, Metformin, Amoxicillin etc. if you come to her pharmacy with a valid prescription.
With another farming and summer hay season about to commence and the return of some 12- to 16- hour days for me, she may be my drug supplier of choice for 800 mg Ibuprofen.


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